Friday, December 21, 2012

Drawing a Cartoon Dad, Retro Style - Video Tutorial

As some of you already know, I've started a series of video tutorials on YouTube, and here is one of my first!

If you enjoy the video, please Like it, and I always love to read your comments too.

The retro cartoon dad is one of the most iconic character types that has stood the test of time. This video shows you how a few small details can turn a drawing of regular guy into a completely clueless, cartoon mainstay. Floating the eyes inside the glasses while raising the eyebrows above the frames gives the character a perplexed and confused expression. While the flat hair and tie help to indicate that earnest appeal that all retro cartoon dads must have.

Subscribe and see many more videos on my channel:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Scary Good Cartoon Expressions

When we think of expressions, we often think of the features: Cranky eyebrows, gritted teeth, a sheepish grin, etc. What we don't always think about is the shape of the head itself. The shape of the head, its form and structure, can literally be stretched and pulled to make different expressions. This is such an effective method of creating expressions that sometimes I'll draw the distorted head shape first, before the features are even completed. To stretch the features, think in terms of specific forces pulling on different parts of the face.

You can use this pupster for practicing your drawings.

 And here's the finished product!


Let me know how you do!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Ruff Tutorial on Quick Sketching

I thought I'd give a few pointers now and then with some quick-sketch tutorials. Let me know if you like them. I enjoy rough quick sketching; but some people may prefer only finished, published art. This one barely missed a coffee stain early this morning, as I drew it while still waking up!

The point of this tutorial is to show the three most important elements in drawing a cartoon puppy: 
  1. A tall forehead
  2. A tiny snout
  3. A massive back of the head
Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you.

Here's another one of me, just for fun:

If you like basic sketching, check out my book:

Basic Drawing Made Amazingly Easy

Learn more about this book
Buy this book at
Buy this book at Barnes&

The third title in a bestselling series, Basic Drawing Made Amazingly Easy is a complete drawing book for the beginning artist. Based on a series of lessons that begin with the five basic shapes (circle, oval, square, cylinder, and rectangle) combined with the five basic components of drawing (line, mass, perspective, light, and shading), the book progresses from the simplest forms to more complex inanimate objects and organic animate subjects.

Your drawing colleague,


Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Draw Manga Faces - Drawing Manga People

Do you want your Manga faces to be more lifelike?

WE ALL KNOW THAT adding expressions to OUR FACE DRAWINGS is tremendously important, but sometimes, a face can be drawn with a good expression and still lack that certain sparkle. Why? It's because they're attempting to draw a "face," when instead, they should be thinking about drawing a "head."

What's the difference between a head and a face? Plenty. When thinking about a how to draw manga faces, most people picture a flat surface seen from the front. Others might picture it turned to a 3/4 view. But no matter which angle it's drawn, most people envision the face as the "flat" part of the head. And this is exactly where the problem lies.

A human head is round and therefore, the face is ROUND as well. But as long as we "think" of the face as flat, we'll continue to draw it flat. And a flat face also flattens out the liveliness of a character.

Here's what you can do to improve how you draw manga faces:

Start by drawing your face with rounded sketch-guidelines. (Center Line & Eye Line).
  1. Draw the features on and along the rounded guidelines. In the popular 3/4 view (which shows perspective), the shape of the features will stretch just slightly, as they appear to wrap around the face.
  2. Only in the front view will the Center Line be drawn as a straight line.
  3. Remember that the Eye Line needs to be curved to reflect its horizontal orbit around the head.

Okay, here's the recap: A slightly rounded face adds emphasis to the curves of the eyes, eyebrows, bridge of the nose, and stretched lips. A slightly curved face will add life to your characters and make you a better artist. 

Was this tutorial on how to draw manga faces helpful? Check out my book:

Basic Anatomy for the Manga Artist: Everything You Need to Start Drawing Authentic Manga Characters

Learn more about this book
Buy this book at
Buy this book at Barnes&

This most basic and complete book on manga anatomy ever written is targeted to beginners, the widest segment of manga fans. Packed with dynamic step-by-step demonstrations detailing how to draw correctly proportioned manga faces and bodies, plus lots of tips and tricks of the trade. 

Your drawing colleague,


Friday, June 15, 2012

How to Draw Manga Hair - Drawing Manga People: Part 1

Some people approach drawing manga hair by drawing each individual strand on the head. But that method is so time consuming that it makes my brain hurt. And usually, it doesn’t look great for all the effort. Here’s why: In a color drawing, all those black hair lines tend to dim the look of the colors, or make them look dirty or smudged. To draw the flowing hair of a ponytail, you would need dozens of flowing lines, all of them parallel to each other, as they curve this way and that. I know – now your brain hurts, too. Usually, such precision is tough to maintain, and the lines of individual hairs, separated by only a 16th of an inch or so, begin to touch, or overlap, and then the look just devolves.

Alternatively, some people draw too little detail, and the hair ends up looking like some freak helmet. So what should you do? See a shrink, and pour your hair-drawing guts out to him? What if the shrink is bald? Then your story will just depress him, and he’ll start spilling his bald headed-guts out to you. And believe me, you don’t want that.

Instead when you think about how to draw manga hair, aim for a middle ground: draw general groupings of strands, but not the actual strands themselves. Here are some hints to remember:

Indicate a part, which breaks up the monotony, and prevents that “I’m wearing an upside-down cereal bowl” look. The exception is female characters with bangs, where no part may be apparent.

Also, give the hair some direction. Choose whether it will predominantly go toward the left, the right, forward or back. Hair that shows gentle motion results in a character with more eye-appeal. This is especially important when drawing dramatic & romantic characters.

The hair often falls just above the eyebrows. If you make it too short, it’ll look as if the barber was directed by the character’s mother to get him ready for his Bar mitzvah.

In a 3/4 pose, sometimes it’s possible to indicate a touch of the hair on the far side of the head. This really adds depth, because it creates the effect of layering: Foreground hair, head, background hair.

These are only suggestions. Use them if you find them helpful.

Was this tutorial on how to draw manga hair helpful? Check out my new book: 

Manga for the Beginner Kawaii: How to Draw the Supercute Characters of Japanese Comics

Buy this book at Barnes&

The book is all about “cuteness.” The cuteness so insanely intense, it hurts. You want to look away. But you can’t. Some of my readers have been staring at the adorable characters for days, forgetting to even eat or sleep. What can I do? The power of the cuteness runs deep.

See ya soon.

Your drawing colleague,

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Manga eyes are famous for their large size and multiple reflective shines, which give them a super-polished, reflective look. What is not so well known are some of the subtle touches that give them that look of extraordinary luster. Today, we'll talk about the reflective shines, and how to draw them to maximize this effect.
What do you need to show a brilliant shine? The answer may surprise you: Darkness. Without a dark area, a shine won't "pop." You need contrast to draw manga eyes. Whenever you draw manga eyes,  try to envision the shines glimmering in a pool of shadow. I just gave a critique of a very good drawing by a young artist on the Deviantart website. The eyes were well drawn, and the colors were appealing. But the shines in the eyes did not have impact, because there was no shading to indicate a shadowed area. I suggested that she darken the top half of the eyes only. She liked the suggestion. I hope I get to see a revision; it was a good image, worth a little extra effort.

Is this a tiny change, which really won't amount to much? Hardly. And you'll be able to see a visual example ox exactly what I mean by following the link at the bottom of this post.

The question is: Why darken just the the top portion of the eye, and not the entire eye, or the bottom? It's due to the direction of the light source. The most common type of lighting is overhead lighting, which is the type that emanates from indoor lighting fixtures, sunlight and moonlight. As the light, shines down, htting the top of the head, and all of the features that protrude cast a small shadow on the face. The nose is one such protrusion, but so are the upper eyelids. The, too catch the light, and as a result, a small cast shadow falls on the top half of the eyeball itself. Because this is the darkest area of the eye, adding as shine stands out particularly well.

Give it a try, and write to me and let me know how it works for you. You can see my free tutorial on drawing manga eyes on Deviantart. Here’s the link:

I hope you'll bookmark this page, and stop by for more tips and hints.

Your Art Colleague,

Chris Hart

Friday, May 18, 2012


Have you ever had a time when you couldn't come up with a good drawing? You try and try, but - nothing? Everyone has times like that. Many people recommend taking your mind off of your work by taking a break from drawing. They tell us to go for a walk along the beach, or go to a movie, or something along those lines. Sounds right to me.

But unfortunately, it doesn't usually work.  In fact, I've met very few frustrated cartoonists wandering along the shore. Pros don't often approach creative frustration by taking a break.

A brief disclaimer before I go on:  None of what I say is meant to be interpreted as an ironclad "rule." Whichever way that works for you is the best way. That said, if you are experiencing sticking points, and are looking for a way to effectively deal with them, then you might want to consider the following:

Professional artists have deadlines. Those a great motivators. But you may not have a deadline. So what, exactly, can you do to kick start your creative juices?

Start by redefining what your imagination is. It's a tool, to be used, not a sentient being, which must be allowed to wander at its own pace and in any  direction.  Press harder on your imagination to produce results. Turn it into just another element of drawing, like visual memory, reworking, and polishing. Imagining is nothing more than a technique to be applied to a problem.

I have immense respect for the imagination. How it works remains, to me, somewhat magical and mysterious. And yet, it seems to respond better if it's not treated as something unknowable, but something workable instead.

Many people believe that the imagination either flows or it doesn't. Were that true, you could never count on your own talent. It might be there, it might not be, depending on the flow.  No one can afford to work with such a capricious muse. You need to undertake a personal journey to find inroads into your own creative thinking, and devise a familiar and workable approach to taming and manipulating your own creative thought process.

Push if it doesn't flow. If the flow is absent, don't accept this as your imagination taking a vacation. Call it back to work. Think in a new and stimulating direction to reinvigorate it. Yes, by all means, allow your imagination to wander, but continue to remain at the helm, redirecting it when it attempts to veer off course - which it will. Sprinkle in fresh thoughts, which might begin with, "What if I did this..."

Directed daydreaming produces creative results.

Just some pencil shavings for thought.

I hope that was helpful!